Productivity with ADHD


We humans, oft have way more things than we need or actually know what to do with. It is something we usually can't (or won't) notice until it's either too late and we realize it ourselves or until someone else points it out to us.

I recently went through this process again (in retrospect, this happened multiple times throughout the years), except this time, my realization was intertwined with the emotional baggage in relation to being diagnosed (after personally deciding to go through the diagnosis) with ADHD.

Even though the diagnosis changed very little for me, it was like a breath of fresh air as it gave me perspective on issues of the past (and present) that suddenly received reasoning - things were bothering me before as well, but now I had a potential lead for their cause (or even what might've been amplifying them).

Then I started noticing the digital (and physical) clutter - I have so, so many things, most of which don't even serve a purpose or are being left unused, yet I kept them either because I thought I was going to use them or due to sentimental value. All these things, I've noticed, were hindering me and my productivity. I get distracted easily.

This event sparked change - I was (and am) on a mission to improve myself and my productivity.

The (possible) Solution

What I understood, is that for a workflow to be effective for me, I need to adhere to the following:

The current iteration for a solution revolves around 4 tools (each of which can be easily replaced by \):

  1. To-Do list - task planning aside, I use my to-do list as a quick entry point for any new information I need to remember. My tool of choice: Todoist. Reasoning: Cross-platform, easy input and organization, sharing.
  2. Calendar - very important in planning out my day and available time, as I manage both my work and personal calendars as well as any tasks I have to take care of. My tool of choice: Fantastical. Reasoning: Effortless handling of multiple calendars and lists with minimal input.
  3. Bookmarks - following an exodus from tab (and bookmark) hell, I've decided to try to actually manage any bookmarks (and read-it-later items, although these usually end up in my to-do list) I want to keep. My tool of choice: Reasoning: Sync, cross-platform, management options.
  4. Knowledge Management - although I've yet to find a reliable methodology of doing this, I understand that keeping knowledge in an easily accessible form (after processing it, rather than copy-pasting it) is important for now as well as later. My tool of choice: Obsidian. Reasoning: Cross-platform, sync, plugins.

The Flow

  1. Information comes in from multiple sources: wife's request, a work Slack message, interesting find on HN, stumbled across something interesting on the street and so on.
  2. The input method for unprocessed information is either directly through Todoist, or through iOS Shortcuts1 I've set up on my phone to forward a specific type of information straight to Todoist: song recognition through Shazam, current location, a photo through the camera, a copied link or text or speech-to-text dictation.
  3. Any processed information (information that I already know what it is or where it goes, in detail) goes into the applicable tool directly:
    • Obsidian (knowledge, code snippets)
    • Fantastical (meetings, events)
    • Raindrop (bookmarks)
    • Todoist (if it's a task, or a list item, like a to-buy list).
  4. I periodically (TBD) go over the Inbox to review items that are there. Items then get transferred to their intended app.

What now?

This self-proposed, self-utilized solution is definitely not the end goal. My philosophy with the tools I want to use (and create) is for them to be painless and enjoyable to use. A tool is useless if it creates friction, and equally useless if it's not being used.

I'm trying to make it work, but getting used to, and sometimes forcing yourself to adhere to, a specific workflow after years of essentially "winging it," is not a trivial task.

I am not afraid of change. I am always on the hunt to make the workflow more efficient and easier for myself, for example I used Morgen only for a day to replace it with Fantastical because I had to schedule my tasks AFTER already giving them a due date, or ditching Google Keep for and now Todoist because of the ease of use and organizational abilities, or buying a subscription to Kagi after having a lot of time wasted on DDG, SearXNG and.. Google.

I want to solve my own issues, not create more of them.

If you've got any suggestions, get in touch via Twitter or Mastodon.

Addendum: iOS Shortcuts

As I've mentioned earlier, unfortunately Todoist's integration with Shortcuts is, at very least currently, lackluster and is missing some basic, and important functionality. Thus I currently rely on Reminders as a fallback

  1. There is currently an unfortunate severe lack of functionality between Todoist and iOS Shortcuts (see this tweet) and I find myself sometimes utilizing the native Reminders more than I'd like. 

WebringMeta IconGEN 2024-05-14 12:04